Check here early and often for all the news and notes from today’s 49ers-Lions game.
Welcome to today’s running blog from overcast and breezy Candlestick Park, where the 49ers and the Lions will do their best to keep a small portion of the nation (northern California, northern Nevada, southern Oregon, and Michigan) riveted to their TV sets.
–First, I’d like to play a request. StonerLab asked about the 49ers’ drives this season. Both the 49ers and their opposition have had 21 offensive possesions (not counting times at the end of halves when they either were running the clock out or had no time to do anything. The opposition has seven possessions in which they did achieve a first down, and their average play per drive is 7.0. The 49ers have had eight possessions without a first down, and their average play per drive is 5.3.
—I’m going to step away for a few minutes as I take part in the 49ers’ pregame show on 107.7-FM and 1050-AM with Lamont, Tonelli and Jamie Williams. I’ll probably be on around 11 or a little thereafter.
–From the pages of today’s Press Democrat, “Lions receivers will be tough to cover.“
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Niners inactives for today’s game: QB Jamie Martin (third QB), CB Marcus Hudson, CB Donald Strickland, CB Shawntae Spencer, LB Ahmad Brooks, C Cody Wallace, T Jonas Jennings and LB Tully Banta-Cain.
This means that rookies Reggie Smith and Chilo Rachal are in uniform for the first time in their NFL careers. Strickland’s absence is somewhat unexpected. Tarell Brown should get some significant action.
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Lions inactives: QB Drew Stanton (third QB), CB Ramzee Robinson, LB Jordon Dizon, Manny Ramirez, T Damion Cook, DE Cliff Avril, DT Andre Fluellen and
DE Dewayne White and DT Landon Cohen.
Also, rookie Gosder Cherilus gets the start at RT in place of George Foster, who had really been struggling. Niners DE Parys Haralson will have an opportunity to school the youngster in pass-rush situations.
White’s absence from the lineup is a blow for the Lions, too. He had their only two sacks of the season. White is active after all. The initial list sent out contained an inaccuracy. Cohen is inactive instead of White.
* * *The teams are on the field warming up at 12:13 p.m. Alex Smith is here. He’s wearing warmups on the sideline. From what I understand, still no decision has been made on whether Smith will undergo surgery on his fractured shoulder. They’re going to see how it’s coming along before that decision is made.
Why is Smith still around the team? After he went on injured reserve, he asked to remain involved. Obviously, as widely reported, the 49ers will not have Smith back at his $9.625M salary next season. The only way he comes back is if the 49ers want him back, he wants to come back and agrees to restructure his contract to accept something close to a minimum contract.
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Don’t know if this means anything about anything, but KR Allen Rossum, who’s listed as a cornerback is stationed with the receivers and running patterns during warmups. He’s spending a lot of time talking with offensive assistant Adam Gase.
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OK, there weren’t any questions from the audience before this game. Here’s a question for myself: If 49ers win the toss do they receive or defer? I’m thinking they’re going to start deferring.
* * *Coin toss. Lions call tails. It’s tails. And the Lions will receive
–Niners kickoff coverage unit consists of Nedney, Brown, Robinson, K.Lewis, Morgan, Bajema, Keasey, R.Smith, Goldson, Walker and Hill.
–Josh Morgan on the tackle of Brandon Middleton.
–Lawson starts at OLB. It’s the base defense. Ulbrich’s at SILB. J.Smith at LOLB. They open in a 3-4. Kitna runs around and gets 6 yards.
–Rough start for rookie Gosder Cherilus on a false start, and also a rough start for the game clock operator. The game clock has had to been reset twice by referee Bill Leavy.
–Third and 4, Brown and Goldson in as extra DBs. Roy Williams catches 9-yard pass in front of Harris.
–Niners defense holds as they get good push up the middle on Kitna. He throws incomplete. Niners take over at their own 37 with 10:59 remaining in the quarter after Rossum’s 14-yard return.
–Niners open with four wides: Battle, Bruce, Morgan and Johnson . . . no, they switch it up again. They go with two TEs: Davis and Bajema with Keasey at FB.
–Two run plays to Gore set up third and 5.
–JTO scrambles for first down — a 9-yard gain.
–JTO had Vernon Davis open down the middle, but he rushed his throw and misfired. That could’ve gone for some yards.
–On third-and-1, former 49ers DE Corey Smith pushes back Vernon Davis into Gore. He loses a yard and the 49ers punt. Lions take over at 10-yard line after fair catch.
–For the 49ers’ second defensive series. Takeo Spikes replaces Ulbrich. False start on TE Michael Gaines.
–Justin Smith sacks Kitna and forces fumble. The Lions recover at the 2. Smith twists past C Dominic Raiola. Lions to punt. Harris with a nice punt, and Rossum returns it near midfield.
–On first and 5, Niners go with three wides (Morgan instead of Battle), and Gore with no gain.
–Gore rips off a big run — they should be able to do that a lot today. Staley was down field blocking on a 33-yard run to the 6.
–O’Sullvan was looking into the end zone, he gets the ball late to Davis at around the 3 but Davis drops it. If he’d gotten it to Davis earlier, that’s a TD (assuming Davis would’ve caught it).
–JTO comes back and finds Bruce in the end zone for a 6-yard score. That’s 49ERS 7, LIONS 0 with 2:16 left in the quarter.
–Jason Hill hustling down to make the tackle on the kickoff at the 16. On the two kickoffs, Morgan and Hill have made the tackles.
–Ulbrich’s in at SILB this series. Tarell Brown matches against Mike Furrey in the slot. It’s a three-and-out for the Lions. Niners will get it back around midfield.
–On first down, Martz dials up some trickery. JTO fakes handoff to Gore and hands it to Johnson on an end-around. Johnson then hands to Battle, who takes it 18 yards.
–Keasey catches 12-yard pass as the quarter ends. The 49ers have the ball at the 23-yard line.
–INJURY UPDATE: Keith Lewis’ return is questionable with a right knee injury. He sustained it on kickoff coverage several minutes ago.
–Davis with a 17-yard catch to the 11.
–Gore with a 4-yard TD run. He bobbled the pitch from JTO on a third-and-3 play . . . good blocking in the center of the line (Heitmann on Ernie Sims), and an interesting play call from Martz. Reminds me of that Week 1 call against the Cardinals when they ran on third down near the goal line and didn’t get it. Martz said then he thought he’d catch the Cardinals playing coverage. That’s what he did here, as the 49ers had three WRs on the field. It’s 49ERS 14, LIONS 0 with 12:52 left in the half.
–Lions pick up a couple first downs on Rudi Johnson runs. Lions ball at the SF 41.
–Niners call defensive timeout before second-and-10 play.
–Johnson upended by Aubrayo Franklin for 1-yard gain. That comes one play after Johnson carried 11 yards for another first down to the 30.
–Sopoaga and Willis combine on tackle of Johnson, setting up third and 9.
–Clements is matched on C.Johnson, Harris on Williams. They throw underneath to Furrey, and Roman makes a strong play to stop him for a 3-yard gain.
–Chris Hanson makes a 44-yard FG. It’s 49ERS 14, LIONS 3 with 7:23 left in the half.
–Looking at the 49ers’ kickoff return unit. Now, Spikes is stationed in the center of the field at the 35. Walker, Balmer and Bajema are the wedge guys. Rossum returns kickoff to the 28.
–The 49ers tried to get the ball deep to Davis. S Dwight Smith was called for holding, and the backjudge almost called PI.
–JTO to Johnson for 25 yards.
–JTO to Josh Morgan for 18.
–Wow. JTO to Walker for 24 yards and a TD. That was an impressive, three-play, 72-yard drive in 1:35. And now it’s 49ERS 21, LIONS 3 with 5:48 left in the half. You can have your lousy time of possession, Martz says.
–Roderick Green with the QB sack on third down. The Lions will punt again. Hey, how ’bout this defense. The coverage of Clements, Harris and others has been outstanding on a very difficult group of wideouts.
–Deep for Davis. He’s out there . . . off his hands.
–Bruce will catch it. He hauls in a 13-yarder on third-and-7. By the way, there were more than a few boos directed Davis’ way.
–Another completion, this one to Battle for 9 yards and a first down. It’s the two-minute warning. The 49ers have the ball at the Lions’ 44.
–The Niners have to punt. (K.Lewis is back in the game on punt coverage.)
–On final play of first half, Lee punts inside the 5, and Jason Hill makes sure it doesn’t get into the end zone. The teams are holding back for a moment. There was a penalty for an illegal touch on the 49ers, but the Lions decline to extend the half. (Rod Marinelli might want to ask if he has to extend the game into the second half.)
–According to my numbers, the 49ers ran 29 offensive plays in the first half. This is the breakdown of plays: Gore 27, Bruce 26, Johnson 26, Davis 21, Battle 15, Keasey 13, Morgan 8, Bajema 5, Walker 3, Foster 2.
–Hey, that’s right. The 49ers get the ball to open the second half.
–Gore picks up 9 and almost breaks it on a third-and-1.
–Lions call a TO on defense, as the 49ers go with four WRs, forcing the Lions to match their personnel.
–Niners get a couple first downs and punt the ball away. Let’s see if the 49ers’ defense can continue to do a number on the Lions’ passing game. Detroit takes over at the 15.
–Third and 11 after Roy Williams called for PI vs. Walt Harris. . . . Kitna completes it to Calvin Johnson on Clements. It’s a first down.
–Tarell Brown, who has done a great job of Mike Furrey so far, breaks in front of him to record his first NFL interception. Parys Haralson is called for a personal foul after the interception. Niners take over at their own 36.
–INJURY UPDATE: Lions CB Travis Fisher has a groin injury. He might not return.
–Martz calls three straight running plays to Gore for 20, 6 and 6.
–On third and 11, O’Sullivan lines up at wide receiver. Gore takes the direct snap and gains 3 yards.
–Nedney for 48-yard FG attempt . . . penalty flag . . . offside on Lions’ Alama-Francis. Now, it’s a 45-yard attempt. He missed it wide right. Lions take over at the 33 with 5:32 left in the third quarter.
–Roderick Green on the sack, showing his speed on third down. People asked Friday why Tully Banta-Cain isn’t getting to suit up for games. That’s why. It’s because the 49ers believe Green and Haralson give them better pass rush right now.
–The Niners take over at their own 15 after a 55-yard punt from Nick Harris.
–Three and out for the Niners. Detroit gets it back at its own 38 with 3:06 left in the quarter.
–Shaun McDonald with a big drop on third down. Hanson kicks 51-yard field goal. It’s 49ERS 21, LIONS 6 with 1:43 remaining in the third. Man, this quarter is taking a long time. I think I’m going to have a slice of pizza.
–LB Alex Lewis with a horse collar penalty on JTO. Niners have ball at the 40.
–When fourth quarter starts, Niners will have a second down at midfield.
–Niners are moving the ball down the field.–A fan runs out on the field and security tackles him. Isaac Bruce retrieves a security officer’s walkie-talkie and returns it to him.
–Nedney on to kick the FG after Gore was stuffed on third down from the 1. Now, they call a timeout. Nolan looked at Martz to see if he had a fourth-play ready. Then, Nolan sent out the FG unit. And they’re sending out the offense during the timeout. The could go up by three scores with a FG, but they’re going for the knockout punch.
–Rossum replaces Morgan on the field. He scored on an end-around. It’s a 1-yard TD. How ’bout that for foreshadowing during pregame warmups? It’s 49ERS 28, LIONS 6 with 9:31 remaining.
–Keith Lewis forces fumble on K.O. return, but Lions recover at the 22.
–Entering this drive, the Lions have 129 yards of total offense. This has been complete domination by the 49ers. Hey, didn’t someone predict a rare decisive victory for the 49ers yesterday?
–Lions will go for it on fourth and 5 from the SF 44 . . . Kitna runs for the yardage.
–Rudi Johnson takes a screen pass 34 yards for a TD. Goldson and M.Lewis had the best chances to bring him down but missed. Now, it’s 49ERS 28, LIONS 13 with 6:57 remaining.
–On an onside kick, Battle catches it cleanly and returns it 28 yards. He’s stopped by Dwight Smith at the 12-yard line.
–The 49ers will settle for a field goal. Nedney out for a 25-yarder. It’s good. 49ERS 31, LIONS 13 with 4:25 remaining.
—I’m going to pack it in and head to the field. I’ll check back after returning from the postgame locker room.